|Publication number||US7758428 B2|
|Application number||US 09/824,621|
|Publication date||Jul 20, 2010|
|Filing date||Apr 2, 2001|
|Priority date||Apr 2, 2001|
|Also published as||CA2442131A1, EP1372799A1, EP1372799A4, US20020142831, WO2002078803A1|
|Publication number||09824621, 824621, US 7758428 B2, US 7758428B2, US-B2-7758428, US7758428 B2, US7758428B2|
|Inventors||Harold Mattice, Joseph R. Hedrick, Chan W. Griswold|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (19), Referenced by (10), Classifications (9), Legal Events (5)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application relates to gaming machines or terminals and security provisions therefore. In particular, the application relates to improved methods and apparatus for affording to authorized persons access to secure areas of gaming machines.
Gaming machines or terminals, such as slot machines, typically include a number of secure or locked areas which are accessible only to authorized personnel. As used herein “area” may refer to a region closed by a door, or a lockable device, such as a switch. Such areas may include storage hoppers and overflow “drop” boxes for coins, currency, tokens or other valuable items used in playing a game, bill or ticket storage stackers, operating mechanisms, electronic control panels, auxiliary equipment such as printers, and so forth. Access to a given machine may be required from time to time by any of a number of different persons, e.g., currency-handling personnel for filling and emptying coin hoppers, drop boxes or bill stackers, service personnel for performing routine maintenance or service functions, repair technicians for correcting malfunctions, and the like. Since most such personnel require access to fewer than all of the available secure areas of a machine, and since it is desired to limit access to machine areas as much as possible for security reasons, it is necessary to provide each such area with a separate lock. Heretofore, such locks have been mechanical devices which are unlocked with a mechanical key. Thus, for any given machine, a number of different keys may be required, and it may be necessary to provide multiple copies of any one key for different personnel, who may require access to an area for different reasons, or who work different shifts, or the like.
The existence of a large number of keys in circulation is an inherent security risk. Furthermore, when a gaming establishment needs to access many machines at a time, such as to do hopper fills or drop box services, most of the service time is spent searching for the proper keys to unlock the machines, which is inefficient and costly. Also, each time an employee leaves the employ of a gaming establishment, the gaming machines or areas thereof to which the employee had access must be re-keyed. This can constitute a significant expense.
There is disclosed herein a method and apparatus for selectively controlling access to one or more areas of a gaming machine, which avoids the disadvantages of prior techniques while affording additional structural and operating advantages.
An important aspect is the provision of a method and apparatus of the type set forth which is characterized by significantly increased security.
Another aspect is the provision of a method and apparatus of the type set forth which affords significant economies of time and money.
An important aspect is the provision of a method and apparatus of the type set forth which minimizes the need for mechanical keys.
In connection with the foregoing aspect, another aspect is the provision of an apparatus which utilizes electrically operable lock mechanisms under control of processors programmed to respond to the input of personnel identification data by a person seeking access to a machine, to provide access to only those areas for which the person is authorized.
Another aspect is the provision of an apparatus of the type set forth, wherein a plurality of gaming machines may be in communication with and under common control from, a host computer.
A further aspect is the provision of an apparatus of a type set forth with a mechanical override which can be used in the absence of electrical power or in the event of malfunction or other emergency.
In connection with the foregoing aspect, a further aspect is the provision of an apparatus of the type set forth, wherein the mechanical override is normally disabled when the gaming machine is normally electrically powered.
In connection with the foregoing aspects, a further aspect is the provision of an apparatus of the type set forth, which provides an indication when the override has been utilized.
Another aspect is the provision of a system of the type set forth which monitors the states of all gaming machine doors and lock mechanisms.
Certain ones of these and other aspects may be attained by providing apparatus for selectively controlling access to one or more of plural areas of a gaming machine, the apparatus including plural electrically operable lock mechanisms respectively associated with the areas and movable between unlocked and locked conditions relative to the areas; control circuitry including a processor operating under control of a stored program and coupled to each of the lock mechanisms for controlling operation thereof; a data storage and retrieval system adapted to communicate with the processor and including a storage medium for storing data including personnel identification data and access authorization data indicative of the areas, if any, of the machine for which a person seeking access to the machine is authorized; and a data input device coupled to the processor for inputting at least personnel identification data identifying a person seeking access to the machine, the processor being responsive to input personnel identification data for operating one or more lock mechanisms in accordance with access authorization corresponding to an identified person.
For the purpose of facilitating an understanding of the subject matter sought to be protected, there are illustrated in the accompanying drawings embodiments thereof, from an inspection of which, when considered in connection with the following description, the subject matter sought to be protected, its construction and operation, and many of its advantages should be readily understood and appreciated.
Access to the interior of the gaming machine 10 may be provided through a main door 17 which includes an associated manual, key-actutable lock mechanism. In addition, a number of the other elements of the machine, such as the hopper 13 a, the stacker 14 a, the printer 15 a, and the drop box 16 may also be provided with manual lock assemblies, and may be accessible from inside or outside of the machine 10. In addition, there may be provided certain switches, such as a privilege switch 18, provided with an associated lock, and one or more circuit boards 19, which may be provided with associated lock assemblies for controlling enablement thereof.
The host computer 21, which may be located in a central location in a gaming establishment, includes a processor 22, which may comprise one or more microprocessors, and an memory or associated storage device 23 on which may be stored a database 24 including identifications of all of the gaming machines 30, as well as personnel identification data for all applicable personnel, and access authorization data indicating which, if any, lockable areas of which machines 30 each person is authorized to access. The processor 22 is coupled to a communications circuit 25 for communication with other devices. The host computer 21 may also be provided with one or more input devices 26, which may include a keyboard, mouse or the like, as well as a display 27, which may include a CRT or LCD display screen or other types of display devices. Additionally, if desired, other accessory devices, such as printers, modems, speakers, etc. may be coupled to the host computer 21 in a known manner. The communications circuit 25 is coupled through a communication link 28 to each of the gaming machines 30. The communication link 28 may be a wired link, such as a cable network or the like, or a wireless link, such as an RF link.
While internal details have been illustrated on only one of the gaming machines 30 in
In particular, each gaming machine 30 includes a local controller 31 which may include a processor 32, such as a suitable microprocessor, coupled to an associated memory or storage device 33 and to a communications circuit 34 which is, in turn, coupled to the communications link 28. The machine 30 is provided with an input device 35 coupled to the processor 32 for user input of information. Referring to
Each gaming machine 30 also includes one or more lock mechanisms 40, each associated with one of the lockable “areas” described above. In the illustrated embodiment, three of the lock mechanism 40 have been shown in the first gaming machine 30 in
Referring in FIGS. 3 and 5-7B, there are illustrated details of a lock mechanism 40 and the control/monitor circuitry 41 thereof for a typical lockable area, in this case the access to the area being controlled by a door 50 on which the lock mechanism 40 is mounted. The lock mechanism 40 includes a lock bolt 42 in the form of an elongated member provided with a tapered cam surface and 43 at one end thereof (see
There is also provided a detent ball 53 biased by a spring 54 into engagement with the lock bolt 42. When the bolt 42 is in its locked position, illustrated in
Referring also to
The control/monitor circuitry 41 includes a lock processor 60 (see
The control/monitor circuitry 41 also includes a similar bolt locked emitter 64 and a bolt locked receiver 65 cooperating with an associated prism 66 so that, when the bolt 42 is in its locked position illustrated in
As can be seen in
It will be understood that the particular type of lock mechanism structure shown on the drawings is simply for purposes of illustrating the applicable principles, and that other known lock mechanism structures could also be utilized.
While the illustrated embodiment utilizes optical emitters and receivers for the door and lock bolt monitoring functions, it will be appreciated that other types of position-sensing devices could be utilized, although for some such devices the modulation function may not be feasible. Also, while a locking mechanism for a door has been described in detail, it will be appreciated that the locking mechanism for other types of lockable “areas” in the gaming machine 30 could use other known types of condition sensing or detecting devices.
In operation, it would be appreciated that the lock processor 60 can determine from the conditions of the emitters and receivers whether or not a door is in its closed position, and whether a lock bolt is in its locked position, unlocked position or neither, and this information can be communicated to the local controller 30 and then to the host computer 21.
The operation of the electrically operated locking mechanism described above is dependent upon the presence of electrical power. It is, of course, possible to provide a battery back-up system in the event of failure of the local power supply, but that is of limited utility. It is desirable to have a means for operating the lock mechanism 40 in the absence of a power supply, such as in the event of a power outage or when a gaming machine is removed for service or inspection, as at a gaming control board facility, and not connected to a power supply. Referring to
Another important aspect is that the system 20 can recognize if there has been unauthorized tampering with the machine 30 with an override key. Thus, when the lock bolt 42 is returned to its locked condition, such as by an electrical control signal, as illustrated in
While the lock mechanism 40 and control/monitor circuitry 41 are designed to provide direct control of access to a lockable area of a gaming machine, by directly locking and unlocking a door or some other lockable device, it could also be utilized for indirect control of access. More specifically, in existing machines with standard mechanical latch assemblies, electrically controllable lock mechanisms could be utilized to control access by controlling the enablement and disablement of the standard mechanical latch assemblies. Referring to
The arrangement of
While, in the embodiment described above, the lock bolt 42 is moved by a coil and magnet arrangement, it will be appreciated that other types of electrically controlled motive devices could be utilized. For example, a stepper motor could be utilized.
Then, at 75, the system displays the states of all of the gaming machines on the display 27 and may produce messages on the display if any states are changed from the previous table. Messages may be steady state or flashing and in various colors, depending upon the particular condition detected. Then, at 76, the new table is stored and if there are any changes from the old table to the new, the new table is added to the end of the file containing the old table. Then, at 77 the program loops and waits for an input from the input devices 26 or a timer interrupt. If, at 78, a timer interrupt is received, the program returns to 72, and if a key board or other input device input is received, it proceeds to 79 and utilizes the input commands to build messages to send to the gaming machines for locking or unlocking different lock mechanisms in accordance with the commands and then, at 79 a, communicates those messages to the gaming machines and returns to 72. These commands are communicated as CNS or CSN signals to the coil 45 a of the designated lock mechanism 40 of the designated gaming machines 30 for respectively locking or unlocking the lock bolt 42.
It will be appreciated that, with the use of this program the system 20 can readily detect error or fault conditions in the states of the gaming machines 30. For example if a door 50 is open, but its associated lock bolt 42 is in its locked position, this would be an error condition which would merit investigation. Similarly, if a lock bolt 42 were to remain in neither a locked nor an unlocked condition, this would be recognized as a fault condition. Also, the system can readily determine whether or not the sensed states of the machine are in accordance with the most recently commanded states and indicate any discrepancies.
If, at 97, the lock/door combination is not in state 1, the routine checks at 101 to see if it they are in a state 2, corresponding to the bolt in its unlocked condition and the door closed, which is another service state condition. If so, the routine again proceeds to 98 and, if not, next checks at 102 to see if they are in state 3, corresponding to the lock locked and the door closed, which is the normal operating state. If so, the routine, at 103, sets the lock locked and door closed flag. If not, the routine next checks at 104 to see if the door/lock combinations in state 4, corresponding to the lock locked and the door opened, which is an error state. If so, the routine, at 105 sets the corresponding flag.
Note that each door/lock combination has two acceptable lock bolt conditions, i.e., locked or unlocked, and two acceptable door conditions, i.e., closed or opened. This means there are four possible combinations of lock/door conditions and the routine checks at tests 93, 101, 102, and 104 for each of those four conditions in sequence. If, at 104, the answer is no, it means that none of those four acceptable conditions obtains and, therefore, the lock must be broken or has been tampered with. This could be because the lock bolt is stuck or it may be because someone has opened the lock with a manual key, such as the override key, and when that occurs the lock must be taken apart and pieces reset, such as resetting the position of the prism 66 (
Thus the routine then proceeds to 106 to check the nature of the fault condition. If the sensors are signaling that the lock is both locked and unlocked, the routine then checks at 107 to see whether the door is opened or closed and sets an appropriate flag at 108 or 109 and then proceeds to 99. If, at 106, the sensors indicate that the lock bolt is neither locked nor unlocked, the routine then checks at 110 to seek what condition the door is in and sets the appropriate flag at 111 or 112 and then proceeds to 99. When the fault code is generated at 96, indicating that the coil has remained energized, the routine also moves to 106 to signal a broken lock condition.
If a communication interrupt occurs, the routine at 113 transmits the table built at 99 to the local controller 31 for the gaming machine 30, and then returns at 114 to the main loop.
In overall operation, when a person wishes to obtain access to any locked area of a gaming machine 30, the person first inputs his or her personnel identification information, utilizing the input device 35. The local controller 35 then communicates this information to the host computer 21, which compares it with the database 24 to determine which, if any, of the locked areas of the gaming machine 30 the person is entitled to access. If access is authorized for one or more areas, signals are sent back to the gaming machine 30 for controlling corresponding lock mechanisms to unlock those areas. When access is completed and the door is reclosed or the switch or other device is returned to its initial condition, this information will also be communicated back to the host computer, which send signals to can then relock the lock mechanisms.
The gaming machines 30 can also be controlled from the host computer 21 independently of any local access request. Thus, for example, if it is desired to provide a service function on a group of machines, such as drop box emptying or hopper loading, that group of machines is typically roped off and the host computer unlocks the appropriate locking mechanisms so that the service person or team can perform the appropriate service function on all of the machines in the group.
A significant advantage of the system 20 is that it greatly facilitates adjustment of the security system to accommodate changes in personnel or their assigned duties. Thus, if a new employee is hired or an existing employee is terminated or an employee's duties are changed so as to alter the machines or the areas thereof to which access authorization by the employee is required, all that need be done is an appropriate editing of the database 24 and the issuance of a new personal data card 37. Similarly, if a card is lost, changing of the identification code for the person involved and the re-issuance of a new card is a simple matter. No change in a physical lock mechanism of any gaming machine is required.
While, in the embodiment described above, the database 24 is stored at the host computer 21, it will be appreciated that it could also be stored at the local controller 31 of each gaming machine 30. However, in this case, any database changes would have to also be affected at gaming machine. Also, while in the illustrated embodiment only personnel identification data is stored on the personal data card 37, it would also be possible to store access authorization data on the card 37 so that when the card is input to a card reader at a gaming machine 30, all areas of that machine to which access is authorized by the card holder could and directly be unlocked without intervention of the host computer.
Various types of input devices 35 have been mentioned above. One possible alternative could be the use of an RF device. In some gaming establishments, it is currently known to have floor personnel to carry a device, such as a hand-held, pocketable computing device of the type sold under PALM trademark, by which they can communicate through an RF link with a similar device in a gaming machine for control of certain functions. It would be possible to utilize such a device as the local controller 31 of a gaming machine, and to have the unit hand-held by establishment personnel serve the function of the input device 35. Such a device within the gaming machine 30 could communicate with a similar device at a host location over an RF communications link, and could communicate by a wired link, such as an RS232 link, to the individual lock mechanism control/monitor circuits 41.
The matter set forth in the foregoing description and accompanying drawings is offered by way of illustration only and not as a limitation. While particular embodiments have been shown and described, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that changes and modifications may be made without departing from the broader aspects of applicants' contribution. The actual scope of the protection sought is intended to be defined in the following claims when viewed in their proper perspective based on the prior art.
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|U.S. Classification||463/46, 70/264|
|International Classification||G07F17/32, A63F9/24|
|Cooperative Classification||Y10T70/65, G07F17/32, G07F17/3216|
|European Classification||G07F17/32C4, G07F17/32|
|Apr 2, 2001||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: INTERNATIONAL GAME TECHNOLOGY, NEVADA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:MATTICE, HAROLD;HEDRICK, JOSEPH R.;GRISWOLD, CHAN W.;REEL/FRAME:011676/0233;SIGNING DATES FROM 20010307 TO 20010327
Owner name: INTERNATIONAL GAME TECHNOLOGY, NEVADA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:MATTICE, HAROLD;HEDRICK, JOSEPH R.;GRISWOLD, CHAN W.;SIGNING DATES FROM 20010307 TO 20010327;REEL/FRAME:011676/0233
|Nov 4, 2002||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: I G T, NEVADA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:INTERNATIONAL GAME TECHNOLOGY;REEL/FRAME:013452/0692
Effective date: 20021022
|Feb 28, 2014||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|Jul 20, 2014||LAPS||Lapse for failure to pay maintenance fees|
|Sep 9, 2014||FP||Expired due to failure to pay maintenance fee|
Effective date: 20140720